The Chicago White Sox have one last piece of unfinished business before they can fully focus on the Houston Astros.
The White Sox will close the regular season at home Sunday against the Detroit Tigers. Chicago, the American League Central Division champion, will face the Astros in a best-of-five division series beginning Thursday.
Chicago (93-68) carries a six-game winning streak into Sunday’s game, as it rallied from four runs down to collect a 5-4 win over the Tigers (76-85) on Saturday.
Right-hander Dylan Cease (13-7, 3.95 ERA) is scheduled to pitch the regular-season finale for Chicago. He suffered a right-triceps contusion in his most recent start on Sept. 24, and this will be a test to see if he’s ready for the playoffs.
“It gives him a chance to make sure the bruise is totally gone,” manager Tony La Russa said. “It gives him a chance to throw a couple of times and get ready for the start. We had the spot open, so he’ll take it. It could have been worse, and we were lucky.”
Cease was injured by a line drive off the bat of Cleveland’s Bradley Zimmer. He hasn’t given up a run in his past two outings.
Cease pitched 5 1/3 innings against Cleveland on Sept. 24, allowing four hits while striking out nine and got the 1-0 win.
“It was one of those nights where I had four pitches working,” he said. “You can’t ask for much more. I felt I was cruising. … As far as executing pitches, it was one of my better games, for sure.”
In his previous start, Sept. 17 against Texas, Cease gave up four hits in five innings and struck out 10.
He fanned the same amount on June 6 against the Tigers. Cease has dominated the Tigers while collecting three wins in as many starts against them this season, posting an 0.95 ERA and striking out 26 in 19 innings.
Left-hander Tyler Alexander (2-4, 3.95) will start the season finale for Detroit. He was unlucky to lose his most recent start at Minnesota on Tuesday, when he allowed just one run on four hits in six innings in a 3-2 loss.
“He’s unpredictable,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “He’s not a guy who pitches one way. He can go to different parts of his strike zone and can entice some soft contact, get some swing and miss, and he can move the ball around. He competes his tail off.
“I mean, he’s got guts. He’s going to challenge the strike zone for the most part,” Hinch added. “He’s not going to cave. I love that about him.”
He’s made six appearances against the White Sox this year, including one start, going 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA.
Detroit is 6-12 against the division winner. It also lost season series to Cleveland (7-12) and Kansas City (8-11).
“We focus a ton on our own division because we play them the most. And quite honestly, it’s the motivation leaving this season,” Hinch said. “We’ve not played well in the division. Each of the teams in this division has beat us in the season series, and we’re going to need to do better if we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win the division.”
–Field Level Media